The annual pilgrimage to Omaha kicks off Warren Buffett week on Saturday. That’s the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting, in case you were wondering.
You can tune into the five-hour Q&A Session on Yahoo! Finance starting at 9:15 central time. I usually watch the replay a day or two after so I can speed up the video to get through it faster.
To tide you over until then, I thought I’d share a bit from an interview with the Oracle from 2013. He was asked about obstacles he had to overcome early on.
Buffett is a great communicator, but it wasn’t always the case. It’s something to think about while he sits in the spotlight for five hours getting peppered with questions.
I was terrified for example both in high school and college. I don’t know when it started but I became terrified of public speaking and I just couldn’t do it. I mean so I arranged all of my classes so I never had to do any public speaking. And I got to Columbia and I saw an ad in the paper for a Dale Carnegie course. And I went down, it was sometime in the forties, and I gave the guy a check for $100. And I stopped payment, I lost my nerve.
Then I came out, I got out of Columbia when I was 20. I came out to start selling securities in Omaha and I realized I had to be able to get up in front of people. I couldn’t go through life this way. So, I saw an ad again in the local paper that there was a Dale Carnegie course being given. I went down and I gave the fellow $100 in cash and I became associated with 30 other people in the class. We couldn’t stand up in front of a group and say our own name. I mean, it was pathetic. But that class changed my life in a big way. As a matter of fact they used to give a pencil every week for whoever did the most with what they’ve learned the previous week. And during that class I proposed to my wife and she accepted. I won the pencil that week.
So, it’s important – I mean it’s certain – you’ve got to be able to communicate in life.
It’s enormously important and probably the schools to some extent under-emphasize that. I mean you start going for an MBA and people think it’s kind of beneath them to teach you about communication. But if you can’t communicate, if you can’t talk to other people and get across your ideas or write either, you know, you’re giving up your potential. Anybody that’s got a career potential of X I guarantee it will be a 150% of X if they really learn how to communicate well.
To get over a fear of associating with people you’ve got to go out there and associate. And it’s painful, it’s very painful. When I finished the Dale Carnegie course, now I’m 21. Proposed, got accepted and everything, but I was very worried I would lapse back like I was before. So I went up to the University of Omaha and I said I want to teach. And fortunately they accepted me. So I started teaching a class at night when I was I believe 21, and you’ve got to do – you’ve got to force yourself sometimes to do things. And I know it isn’t easy because it wasn’t easy for me. When I started selling securities, well I was 20 when I started selling securities and I would go out, I used to walk around downtown Omaha and call on people. And there were people that I knew weren’t going to be that friendly sometimes. I’d walk around the block three or four times sometimes before going in.
Office Hours with Warren Buffett, May 2013
- Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting Book Selections (pdf) – The Bookworm
- “It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time” – S. Bakshi
- Stocks’ Fundamental Swings Still Apply as Time Goes By – Nir Kaissar
- Could Roger Federer be as Successful Playing Badminton? – McKinsey
- Optimism and Trust on the CEO’s Mind – Strategy+Business
- Inertia: The Force That Holds the Universe Together – Farnam Street
- The Benefits of Admitting When You Don’t Know – Behavioral Scientist
- Is Loss Aversion a Myth? – Behavioral Investment
- Divine Discontent: Disruption’s Antidote – Stratechery
- The Gambler Who Cracked the Horse-Racing Code – Bloomberg
- Theodore Roosevelt on the Cowardice of Cynicism and the Courage to Create Rather Than Criticize – BrainPickings
- Did Einstein Really Say That? – Nature